I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, June 13, 2016

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Sedaris, born in the state of New York, moved down to Raleigh, North Carolina when he was seven, with his three sisters, because his father worked with computers for IBM and they transferred him there.  They were taught to never say ma'am or sir to teachers or other elders.  Saying ya'll would get you ridiculed in his family.  The only child to be born in North Carolina is his only brother, who would grow up with the worst Southern accent and the foulest mouth.  What his father would never put up with in them, he let it go with this child, probably because when it boiled down to it, they were personality wise, the same.  Over the years, their father would get ideas about his children and try to make them  conform to his ideas.  Once he decided to have them become a band.  When David unconsciously made his gayness apparent to his guitar teacher, he fired him as a student.  Soon, his sisters got the same idea and found ways out of their lessons.  None of his children would be as smart as he was (some were barely able to escape high school) or embrace his secret dream of being a musician.

While in the fourth grade, David is called out of class.  Trying to quickly think of what wrong thing he did that he could be in trouble for, he was surprised to find out that he would be seeing a speech therapist to help cure his lisp on the s.  He was not the only one.  There were other boys just like him with the same problem.  Boys who loved making potpourri, creating movie albums, and other such things.  He made it through the teacher's attempts to change him by using a thesaurus to substitute s words for other words without them.  But in the end, she gets him.

After high school, he goes to art school, because he believes he has artistic talent.  He cannot sculpt, paint, or do any of the other traditional arts and instead headed toward conceptual art and crystal meth.  He hung out with other like minded people who would get high and create truly bizarre things.  He put vegetable crates on top of each other and added a few things and it got accepted into an exhibition.  This put him on the outs with his peers for a while because they thought he had gone too main stream.

Once he left all that behind him and moved to New York, he met Hugh, the son of a State Department employee who had grown up all over Africa.  He owned a broken down house in Normandy, France and every year they would spend a month there fixing it up.  David's sister, Amy, a famous comedian/actress who is a real oddball, sends him grits, books on tape, and a French dictionary for doctors and nurses. Soon David realizes that learning French would be an asset.  So he takes classes from different teachers over the years, including one who made the others cry she is so mean.

It was during these classes that he learned of the Chocolate Bell that comes from Rome at Easter to give the children of France candy.  This he finds completely ridiculous because there are thousands of bells in France, which the French would surely think to be a higher class of bell than any bell from Rome.  He also has a hard time with the way the French assign gender roles to words, for example: "Because it is a female and lays eggs, a chicken is masculine.  Vagina is masculine as well, while the word masculinity is feminine.  Forced by the grammar to take a stand one way or the other, hermaphrodite is male and indecisiveness female."

Back at home is asked to come teach a creative writing class at his old art school.  He had no idea what he was doing.  He had no lesson plan, no curriculum outline for the semester, or any idea of what to do for two hours twice a week.  For a while he has them watch One Life to Live and write a paper explaining what will happen next on the show.  This was met with a bit of failure as no seemed to be in as much thrall with the soap as he was and just didn't "get it".  Both teacher and student were happy that class was over.

This book explores the life of David Sedaris as a child, young adult, and an adult trying to make it while he figures out what to do with his life. It also explores the differences between France and the U.S. and his relationship with  both, as well as his relationship with Hugh, the nicest guy you can imagine.  David had an odd childhood and grew up to be an even odder adult.  Will he ever, as the title suggests "Talk Pretty One Day"?  Who knows, but he does try.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Me-Talk-Pretty-One-Day/dp/0316776963/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1465836956&sr=1-1&keywords=me+talk+pretty+one+day+by+david+sedaris

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